Oral Health Group
Feature

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 1, 2011
by Oral Health


Re: March 2011 Editorial, ‘Regulating the Regulations’
I would like to thank Dr. Goodman for her editorial in this March’s issue of Oral Health. She so eloquently described the feelings of so many dentists across this country and I applaud her. There has never been such a confusing time for dental professionals in this country. Our associations (or in our case in Alberta, the combined association and college) have not focused enough on educating the professionals they represent. In today’s world, technology brings us closer. It should be standard for all associations to have webinars on their websites to better educate dentists.

I’m not talking about how to do an efffective endo. I’m referring to educating dentists on what many of the guidelines that the associations put in place mean. It seems that we all need law degrees to interpret these regulations today. Even with a law degree, it seems that many of these guidelines are open to interpretation. It is vital that the associations are clear with what the guidelines mean. In Alberta, it is apparent from the discipline that we read about in our Updater, that many dentists are unsure of this interpretation. I realize that there are many hard working people serving in our associations who try to do the best for the profession. I do however feel that there needs to be a shift to more education / interpretation. With more education, there would be less discipline required and thus dentists could focus on providing the care that we have been trained to do. You shouldn’t have to learn it at a dental lunch meeting.
Nick Douvis, DDS
Medicine Hat, AB

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As Dr. Janice Goodman notes in her March, 2011 editorial (“Regulating the Regulations”), dentists work in a complex legislative and regulatory framework. What was surprising is the thought that dentists may fail to understand that labour laws or requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act apply to all workplaces in Ontario, including dental offices. Various other federal, provincial and municipal laws also have specific application to regulated health-care providers in this province. It is not common for government or government agencies to contact each and every business within their jurisdiction to reinforce the rules that apply.

Ultimately, it is a fundamental matter of risk management for the dentist to understand the rules. The Ontario Dental Association (ODA) is on top of the regulatory and legislative rules that affect practising dentists. We provide a wealth of information on our website to make it as easy as possible for members to comply with the maze of legislative and regulatory requirements. The most recent series of tools related to the Occupational Health and Safety Act include: Health & Safety Programs: A Guide for Dental Practices; WHMIS Program: A Guide for Dental Practices: MSD Awareness and Prevention: A Guide for Dental Practices; Radiation Safety Program: A Guide for Dental Practices. These updated guides include templates on meeting the requirements on Safety Engineered Needles and Workplace Violence and Harassment Policy and Program requirements made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act last year. The Employment Guidelines for the Dental Office is another important tool for dentists as is the Dental Wastes Best Management Practices Guide for the Dental Community. In addition to offering these and other resource materials, the ODA has held education sessions related to compliance in many of these areas.

It might be helpful to clarify that WHMIS does not make reference to the use of safety-engineered syringes / needles. These changes were made to the regulation under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of Ontario. The reference to these requirements under WHMIS in Dr, Goodman’s editorial may confuse dentists about steps to compliance.
I encourage Ontario dentists to access the ODA member website (www.oda.ca). It is filled with information, links, templates and resource materials that will help you to be confident that your office would pass any inspection with flying colours!
Dr. Lynn Tomkins
President, Ontario Dental Association Toronto